Mother’s Day Hiking Trip

Today Rious got to go on his first family hiking adventure. We went to Fort Foster in Kittery Maine. He even rode like a grown up dog in the back of the Element seat belted alongside Etta. This was big for both of them. I have not until now quite trusted that she would be good to him and he would not be a pest to her! He was quiet as a church mouse both up and back.

He was very good walking the beachside trail. There were a fair number of people, kids and dogs out. He was a little bit nervous when we first arrived but acclimated quickly. He was not so sure about the waves! He would walk cautiously up to the waters edge and then race backwards as a wave rolled in!

He waited patiently while Gracie played, always keeping a careful watch on her.

Hoping for another beach trip with him as well as more hikes soon!

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It’s Been Far Too Long!

Life has been very busy around here lately. I am continuously impressed by Rious. He is smart, attentive and loves to work! He loves his crate and my kids and rides like a champ in the car. At less than five months old his training is much further along than I anticipated and much further along than any other dog I have had to this point. He has hit 30 pounds and his coat is so soft and glossy. He does not look like the dingy, wormy, coarse coated puppy of a few months ago. He is becoming very handsome if I do say so myself! My other dog Etta has more or less accepted him and they now play quite nicely. This was a huge step for Etta and very exciting to see. He really is such a fabulous dog and I feel incredibly lucky to have had all of the stars line up and bring him to me!

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Rious Playing With His Wobbler

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The Importance of Food Toy

I spoke about this at class last week and realized I need to put it here!

Food dispensing toys are a very important piece of the mental stimulation puzzle for growing puppies and active dogs. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures and remarkably good problem solvers if taught and allowed to think early on.

One of my favorite ways to do begin this is by giving them food dispensing toys. Rious’ favorites are regular Kong toys, which he gets in his crate any time I leave, and a Kong Wobbler, which he gets his lunch out of every day. I have a great picture of him using the Wobbler on my phone and if I can figure out how I will add it here!

A Wobbler is like an old fashioned “Weeble” toy. It looks like a large plastic Kong with a hole about half way up. The base is weighted with sand so it stands back up if knocked over. The base unscrews from the top and can be filled with kibble and small treats.

The first time I gave it to Rious he seemed slightly afraid of it. I showed him a few times that I could knock it over and food fell out. Every time I walked by I would hit it and walk away to let him explore. He whined at it a few times, wanting the kibble but being unsure what to do to get it. But within minutes he was a little mad man batting it around!

His next challenge will be the “food puzzle” I have where he will need to slide little doors to find the hidden food!

But you don’t have to go crazy with food toys. Regular Kongs will suffice, especially if you stuff them well and freeze them! Kongs can be stuffed with mixtures using yogurt, plain pumpkin (not the pie mix with sugars and spices!), kibble, Cheerios, wet dog food, bananas, you name it!

I start with peanut butter or cream cheese smeared on the outside to entice the dog to lick it off. Don’t make a Kong experience too challenging right from the start or you may frustrate them right from the start and they will just give up. Make it gradually more challenging and you will have a Kong master in no time!

I can not over stress the importance of these toys. Most dogs are pretty darn bored. They gulp their meals down in 30 seconds and then have 12 hours to kill until their next exciting event happens. BORING!!! These toys take time for them to eat their meals and mentally and physically tire them out so they will rest a bit after eating. Win win!

An additional bonus it that it will help to slow down a dog who bolts his food hopefully reducing his risk of deadly bloat, also known as gastric torsion.

I love the look on my dogs faces when I prep their Kongs knowing that it makes the leaving routine far less stressful on them and gives them something to do. Creating a predictable routine for a dog can be very beneficial. For some separation anxiety dogs this can work to your advantage or it can backfire. They are a case by case basis. For most dogs I feel it is a very good way to prevent it in the first place.

Now I will try to figure out how to post that picture!

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A Good Night

Last night Rious and I “crashed” a drop in class for show dogs! It is held at a facility I know is essentially positive. The instructor was very kind and allowed me to work on the outskirts of the class. Several people asked what I was doing and were very impressed with both Rious’ attention and my handling of him. It felt great!

He really was so fabulous. There were a LOT more dogs in the class than I expected to see ranging from puppies to a giant Mastiff and another huge Great Dane! Rious greeted all politely and returned attention when I told him to leave it. He calmly watched them jogging around the ring, including right past him and easily returned his attention to me all by himself without being asked! I was thrilled to see that!

He really is shaping uo to be my dream training puppy and I am amazed daily by how much fun he is!

Yesterday I also let him out in our back yard for the first time. He has now had a few rounds of dewormer and is big enough that he can’t fit through the one small gap in my fence. He loved it! He ran laps and bounced all over in the snow banks!

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Am I the Only One???

I have been actively seeking a training class I could attend with Rious and it is proving to be a seemingly impossible task! I don’t think I am asking anything too extraordinary; a safe, positive place where I will not have to watch dogs be hurt or scared on a night I can make it. The one place that had all of that cancelled the class I enrolled in due to a lack of enrollment! I spoke with one facility this morning and explained what I was looking for, that I was a positive reinforcement trainer and upon being told they used positive reinforcement, I made arrangements to go tonight. And within the first 30 seconds of the instructor handling the first dog I packed my things and walked out!

I had a warning flag go up when during the first ten minutes of class the instructor literally did not speak to anyone, she just went through paperwork and yelled at her dogs for barking when they were clearly uncomfortable and inappropriate to be hanging out in class. Then she called the first person over with an adorable, goofy, happy 6 month old lab mix. He did pull his owner over to the instructor. I would have taught him his name and some loose leash walking. I was horrified to see the instructor fit him to a choke collar and proceed to collar correct him until he yelped and dropped to her feet in the most submissive appeasing body language you could see. It was heart breaking. She then looked at the next dog and said “Oh good, you already have a training collar”. My heart dropped, my stomach turned and I packed up my stuff and quickly walked out the door.

I VERY briefly debated staying and leading by example, but I knew that there was absolutely no way I would be able to withstand watching that and there was also no way I was going to support them with my dollars! I felt so deceived and absolutely frustrated that people are calling THAT positive reinforcement. Additionally it pains me that all of these people were seeing this and accepting it. I saw two dogs enter the building already shaking and I will think of them tonight worrying how much more shaking they will do.

I can only hope that someone, anyone, even just one person saw how fabulously my 11 week old puppy was sitting on his mat, watching me on request and never once being collar corrected and then saw me walk out. I hope I was able to get just one person wondering why or noticing a difference in the dogs body language. Just one. That is all I can hope.

So once again I will be making calls tomorrow to more facilities to try to find a safe, supportive class where I can work my puppy. Ultimately, I want to take my own classes!!! I find it shocking that something remotely similar to what I do is seeming to be so hard to find. I like my classes but until tonight I did not realize how special they were. Going forward I will take an even greater sense of pride in what I do and how I do it. I love dogs. There is no need to hurt them to train them. I will never falter from that belief and I refuse to support any business who does not follow that simple mind set.

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Seriously, he’s too good to be true!

This pup is just amazing! He is really so smart. We have gone two days without any accidents, he is going to the door when he needs to go out (that reminds me I need to put up the potty bells!) and is going on cue!

Tonight I took him to teach class with me again. He did great being my demo boy and waited mostly patiently when not working. He got lots of practice getting treats for sitting quietly at my feet!

He met lots of my students and got to have puppy play time at the end of class. To my utter delight he played name game while playing and came away from play when called!

I just couldn’t be happier with his progress! We begin taking a class Thursday night. I haven’t gotten to take a class in way too long and I am really excited to get to do so, especially with such a smart puppy!

Rious did have a rough day Sunday. First he was happily playing with a toy when he crashed into a folded step ladder which fell over on him. I heard him scream and he had just gotten out from under it when I got there. He came out limping pretty badly and I had visions of large vet bills and permanent lameness running through my head. Luckily after about 10 minutes of cuddling he began walking normally again. Then that evening my husband gave him his first bath! He was highly unimpressed! But he smelled so good after and his coat felt so much better.

I did introduce a “Kong Wobbler” to him today. It is a food puzzle toy. It is sort of like a giant “Weeble” that you put kibble in for the dog to push around to extract the food. He was very unsure at first and was even slightly afraid of it. I showed him a few times how tipping it over spit out food and he took it from there! He ended up eating his whole lunch out of it! I love food puzzle toys, they are so good for a dog’s brain!!!

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Such a busy week!

A new puppy and a new baby is a ton of work. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired! It is not really any worse than I expected but it is certainly not easier! It never fails, everyone needs something at the same time. And that is when the best laid plans fall apart!

On the definite upside, Rious is a ton of fun and super snuggly. If you are on the floor, he is in your lap. Except between the hours of 8 and 9:30 pm, then we have witching hour and look out!!! He is pretty lazy all day, apparently he saves it up!

Rious came with me to puppy class on Tuesday night and was an absolute rock star, aside from peeing on the floor! Lol, at least he got it out of the way and my students know it is normal! He was a bit scared of the flight of concrete steps outside. Then he watched an older pup go down and that was it, he bounded up and down with no problem after that! He demonstrated every behavior with ease and relaxed on his mat at my feet when not working. At the end he socialized well with the other pups. He was a total pro, which was really exciting to see!

The other day I had my son in his bouncy seat in the kitchen while I made lunch. Rious was curious but pretty good. When we sat down for lunch I put my son in his high chair. My daughter then said “Rious is in Sammy’s seat!”. I figured he had his paws in it sniffing around. Nope! He was curled up in the seat! I think it was pretty brave of such a young pup to climb into something that moved around so much! He should take to agility training well, that is for sure, if things that move under his feet do not bother him!

And you see, I am so tired that I already wrote about that this week and forgot!  LOL!

I am signing him up for a class for me to take him to that starts next week. I am looking forward to actually getting to take a class! It has been a long time!

In the last few days he has subtly begun indicating he needs to go out by sitting near or looking at the door. I need to get the potty bells back out and teach him to ring them now!

The other day I started teaching him “paw” and he is so cute when he does it now! 🙂

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Rious’ First Vet Visit

Today Rious had his first “well baby” check with Dr. Whitebone at the Derry Animal Hospital. We hung out in the waiting room before our appointment because for quite possibly the first time ever, I was early to the vet! He made eyes at a gorgeous Australian Shepherd pup who was also working hard and new to her family. Rious practiced sit, down, name game, targeting and leave it. A few minutes later an enormous and out of control Lab came dragging his owner into the waiting room. At first Rious hid behind me but then he playbowed a bit and finally he sat squarely between the dog and my son sleeping in his car seat. I must say he looked like he was on a mission to protect his boy!

In the exam room Rious greeted the vet tech and vet. He happily ate treats on the exam table during his exam and happily lapped up some easy cheese during his Lyme vaccine. When the doctor had to give him his kennel cough, which is liquid they drip into the nose, he did not even flinch!

After he went back into his crate and rode home without a peep. We are well stocked with nearly every type of intestinal dewormer known to man and a return visit scheduled in three weeks. I think overall this was a very positive first vet experience.

Then we went to pick my daughter up from preschool and one of her little friends climbed in the car to chat with Rious! He was interested but sleepy and barely paid her any attention.

I am planning to bring him with me to teach class tonight, but we will see where his energy is And make sure he is not having any reaction to his vaccines.

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Good Doggie Karma!

Wow, I must getting some wonderful doggie karma with such an incredible puppy as payback for all of the challenges I faced raising Etta! This puppy is SUCH a delight to train! Today he actually yowled while I was in another room and he was loose in the kitchen and he needed to go outside! And just now as I was writing in the kitchen he did a “drive by” of the door, looked at the door knob and then looked very pointedly at me. I took him out and he peed right away! I was so excited!

He did start expelling some nasty tape worms (?) today. He has a well baby visit to the vet tomorrow so we will get that cleared right up.

This morning I had my 13 week old son in the kitchen with me in his bouncy seat while I did dishes. Rious kept going over and sitting next to him. I took Sam out of the seat and into his high chair for lunch then turned around to find Rious curled up in the seat! I think he is going to be a fearless agility dog if he is confident enough at 9ish weeks to climb into a seat that moves!

Today we began working on going into his kennel on cue and settling for short times there. For fun I also added waiting for a release cue before he exited the crate. I began adding a sit and wait for the food bowl last night so this was a fairly natural extension. He picked it up right away.

I left him home alone today for the first time in his new big boy crate! I was a little worried that being crated alongside Etta while she carried on in her crate may be a bad idea, but I kept my fingers crossed that he would be pretty immune to barking since some of his kennel mates at the rescue were big barkers. Luckily, he seemed to be the latter! I came home to find Etta barking away and there he sat cool as a cucumber, softly wagging his tail until I released him.

We did a few short sessions today of sit, down, leave it, name game, eye contact, go kennel, wait, free time, hand tageting with nose and then just for fun we added paw.

He is now playing some version of a dancing game with Gracie! He was getting a little excited and starting jump and grab at her so I did a little name game and heavily rewarded him for looking at me while she was bouncing around and now he is completely uninterested in what she is doing! I am telling you, this is too good to be true! I hope there is not a catch!

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